May Advent joy glow within you!
As you know, the third Sunday of Advent is also called “Gaudete Sunday” which is a Latin translation of the word “rejoice.” When we hear the readings from Isaiah and John we do get a sense of joyful anticipation for the one who is to come. It is also striking that this Sunday is situated very near two occasions when the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored in a special way: the Immaculate Conception (est. Solemnity 1708) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (est. Feast 1999, apparitions 1531). One of the titles we are given for Mary in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary is “Cause of Our Joy” and this title seems especially appropriate for her as we prepare with her for the coming of Christ on Christmas.
Isaiah’s message is joy-filled because it promises good news, liberation, healing and blessing. It promises forgiveness and renewal of the Covenant for God’s people. In John’s Gospel, we see John the Baptist calling the people to repentance: turn your hearts to God! Ask for forgiveness! Forgive others! The Lord is near, and he comes to save; not to condemn. We know this from Scripture, the teaching of the Church and our own experience!
Both messages are vibrantly relevant for today and they invite us into the joy of the kingdom but to do so, we cannot hold on to any form of sin or contribute to it. We cannot become imprisoned by fear, retaliation, negativity, unrealistic expectations or bad behavior. It is Advent now and stress accompanies busy-ness with shopping, parties, and too many details to count. There is also our own historical context of widespread confusion and fear about COVID-19, the corruption and lies of political leaders, judges, media and so on. Many are experiencing grief, loss, brokenness and loneliness. Some are just emotionally more sensitive because of stress and little things get to them. In order to “not quench the Spirit” or “despise prophetic utterances” we can follow Mary who invites us to be quiet, focus and reflect on God’s activity in our lives. It is also important for us to know that we are invited to ask Jesus for help with anything we need especially, healing and forgiveness. God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter